What Are My Obligations to Continue Benefits for an Employee on Maternity Leave?

Posted by Cara Winfield on October 13th, 2015

What Are My Obligations to Continue Benefits for an Employee on Maternity LeaveWe have found that employers often have questions about how to proceed in terms of group benefits when one of their employees goes on maternity leave. Many small businesses without dedicated Human Resources staff aren’t sure about their obligations surrounding this topic.

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) from the Ontario Ministry of Labour protects an employee’s legal rights. It states that during pregnancy and maternity leave, employees have a right to continue to take part in employer benefit plans.

Shared Premiums

If the premiums are shared, you must continue to pay your portion of the premiums.

“Women on maternity leave continue to be entitled to other benefits under employment-related benefit plans including pension, life insurance, accidental death, extended health and dental plans. Employers are also required to continue to make contributions to such plans, so long as employees continue to make their contributions, as required.”

  • “Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding” from The Ontario Rights Commission

To cover her premiums, the employee could issue post-dated cheques or negotiate some other method that you both agree on.

If she decides not to pay the employee portion of the premiums, all premiums and coverage can be suspended during the leave. Before suspending coverage, you should get a statement in writing from the employee, confirming that she wishes to suspend her coverage.

Disability Benefits

Disability benefits cannot be claimed while on maternity leave, because the employee is not actively at work and a claim would be denied. However, the employee can possibly claim disability benefits if they are unable to return to work. Therefore, it is necessary for the employee or employer (according to how the plan was set up) to continue paying disability premiums during the leave.

Further Reading

For more information on this subject, we encourage you to contact your insurer to see what their requirements are, and to read the following:

>> HFG is happy to answer any questions you have about employee insurance. We help employers get a benefits plan that matches their needs, goals, and budget. Get in touch with an HFG advisor today to get started!

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About Cara Winfield

Cara has worked with HFG since 2008, specializing in helping business owners and self-employed individuals protect their income, their business, and their employees using insurance solutions. She is passionate about her work, starting in the insurance business after a relative suffered a life-threatening illness that potentially could have left the surviving spouse in a terrible position, as no income protection or life insurance was in place. Now she helps others avoid finding themselves in similar situations. In her spare time, Cara volunteers with Fit Active Beautiful Foundation as a mentor and coach, as well as teaching Group Exercise at GoodLife Fitness.

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